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My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?
Many evangelicals want to ban abortion, but does that mean they want theocracy?
October 15th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Are evangelicals dangerous?

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Special to CNN

Here we go again.

Every four years, with every new presidential election cycle, public voices sound the alarm that the evangelicals are back. What is so scary about America’s evangelical Christians?

Just a few years ago, author Kevin Phillips told intellectual elites to run for cover, claiming that well-organized evangelicals were attempting to turn America into a theocratic state. In “American Theocracy,” Phillips warned of the growing influence of Bible-believing, born-again, theologically conservative voters who were determined to create a theocracy.

Writer Michelle Goldberg, meanwhile, has warned of a new Christian nationalism, based in “dominion theology.” Chris Hedges topped that by calling conservative Christians “American fascists.”

And so-called New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris claim that conservative Christians are nothing less than a threat to democracy. They prescribe atheism and secularism as the antidotes.

This presidential cycle, the alarms have started earlier than usual. Ryan Lizza, profiling Rep. Michele Bachmann for The New Yorker, informed his readers that “Bachmann belongs to a generation of Christian conservatives whose views have been shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular Americans, or even to most Christians.”

Change just a few strategic words and the same would be true of Barack Obama or any other presidential candidate. Every candidate is shaped by influences not known to all and by institutions that other Americans might find strange.

What stories like this really show is that the secular elites assume that their own institutions and leaders are normative.

The New Yorker accused Bachmann of being concerned with developing a Christian worldview, ignoring the fact that every thinking person operates out of some kind of worldview. The article treated statements about wifely submission to husbands and Christian influence in art as bizarre and bellicose.

When Rick Perry questioned the theory of evolution, Dawkins launched into full-on apoplexy, wondering aloud how anyone who questions evolution could be considered intelligent, even as polls indicate that a majority of Americans question evolution.

Bill Keller, then executive editor of The New York Times, topped all the rest by seeming to suggest that conservative Christians should be compared to those who believe in space aliens. He complained that “when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively.”

Really? Earlier this month, comedian Penn Jillette - a well–known atheist - wrote a very serious op-ed complaining of the political influence of “bugnut Christians,” in the pages of The Los Angeles Times, no less. Detect a pattern here?

By now, this is probably being read as a complaint against the secular elites and prominent voices in the mainstream media. It’s not.

If evangelicals intend to engage public issues and cultural concerns, we have to be ready for the scrutiny and discomfort that comes with disagreement over matters of importance. We have to risk being misunderstood - and even misrepresented - if we intend to say anything worth hearing.

Are evangelicals dangerous? Well, certainly not in the sense that more secular voices warn. The vast majority of evangelicals are not attempting to create a theocracy, or to oppose democracy.

To the contrary, evangelicals are dangerous to the secularist vision of this nation and its future precisely because we are committed to participatory democracy.

As Christians committed to the Bible, evangelicals have learned to advocate on behalf of the unborn, believing that every single human being, at every stage of development, is made in God’s image.

Evangelicals worry about the fate of marriage and the family, believing that the pattern for human relatedness set out in Scripture will lead to the greatest human flourishing.

We are deeply concerned about a host of moral and cultural issues, from how to address poverty to how to be good stewards of the earth, and on some of these there is a fairly high degree of disagreement even among us.

Above all, evangelicals are those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and are most concerned about telling others about Jesus. Most of America’s evangelical Christians are busy raising their children, working to support their families and investing energy in their local churches.

But over recent decades, evangelical Christians have learned that the gospel has implications for every dimension of life, including our political responsibility.

We’re dangerous only to those who want more secular voices to have a virtual monopoly in public life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (5,318 Responses)
  1. MattyP

    I'm sorry, but people who refuse to acknowledge, support, or even believe the Theory of Evolution (the same theory that provides the basis for the majority of the medical field) have no business making decisions that affect my life.

    I refuse to vote for anyone who is willfully (in the case of evangelical anti-evolution crowd) blind to the most basic scientific concepts.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Anon

      Sadly christards are the majority in this country.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Oh god no. Don't vote for anyone who doesn't understand evolution. Yikes.
      Can you imagine, the leader of the free world... not getting basics? Oy.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  2. RillyKewl

    This article answers the headline's question with a resounding YES.
    First clue is his use of the word "elite". Gives it away every time.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  3. Ryan

    Come on, CNN, get rid of this stupid Faith BLOG. You aren't FOX, and I respect you for that. Leave the religious rantings to those idiots. You're better than this. I always respected CNN's "Just the facts" approach...this is insulting. I'll keep my opinions about religious bigotry masquerading as tolerance and reasonable thought in this blog to myself, because 38 pages worth of people have seen fit to comment on that and have said it all. Just get rid of the crap, CNN, come on, please?

    October 16, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • RillyKewl

      cnn sucks up to all the hatebaggers.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Pete

      Ryan, like it or not its part of popular culture – well within the remit of CNN, especially at the moment. Most news isn't facts its opinion anyway so this fits right in 🙂

      October 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  4. Sheepleherder

    Do you think the taliban started out by saying they would kill people who differed, in anyway, to their teachings?? A religious fanatic is a religious fanatic. Give into them in any way and they will destroy democracy. Read the papers, even the most peace loving theocracy's eventually are taken over by the most fanatical ... current case in point the Amish.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  5. sassypants

    Funny to see so many foolish comments from under edumicated people.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  6. Mike

    Christians are the most UN-Christ like people. They bash and slam gays, yet wouldn't Jesus embrace and help gays if he were around today?

    And, the stuff these Christians believe in is pretty coo-koo. With ZERO proof too, only based on faith! Unreal.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • sassypants

      According to their faith He might heal them and then say "go and sin no more". In case you haven't noticed they are not asking to be healed they are asking to indoctrinate our children and accept their lifestyle as normal which is expressly forbidden in the Bible.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually Mike, Christians are the only ones that truly love gays because they are willing to tell folks Jesus' truth about what will happen to their souls when we leave this earth. Everyone else lies to gays and tell them all the carnal sins which will destroy their souls.

      You have 2 choices with that free will He gave us. Love and follow Jesus (truth about life and the hereafter) and your soul lives while on earth as it is in Heaven, enjoy eternity with Him, or, love and follow satan's lies, spiritually die while on earth, go to paradise, still reject Jesus. No eternity for you.

      Choose wisely.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Ryan

      @ sassypants –
      If Jesus spent his time "healing" gays and ignored cancer, AIDS, and things of that nature, I'd be more of an ardent atheist than I am right now.

      Gays don't want to be "healed." They're perfectly happy the way that they are. Trust me, I have many gay friends and a gay cousin, and they're some of the happiest people I know.

      Religion, in any of its forms, is the scourge of the 21st century. This is the information century, and freethinkers will overcome! It's moronic comments like yours and like this entire article which are to blame for the "New Atheist" movement.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • objecttothis

      Hi Mike. Your opinions, like everyone elses, are (hopefully) based on your interaction with Christians and not just what you see on TV and movies so there is a grain of truth to them. However, keep in mind that your interaction may have not represented an entire group. There are plenty of Christians out there who do actually think, have reason for what they believe and while you may disagree with them, your value system doesn't allow you to make an absolute statement such as "this group is wrong" since you demand the right to set what is right just like everyone else... The funny thing about truth is that it's exclusive. Murder can't be right for you and wrong for the next guy and not have a conflict.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • brokenglasses

      I totally agree with sassypants. Gays do not want Jesus. They want to try and twist the Bible to match their life style when the Bible clearly forbids it. They do no want tolerance (agree to disagree); they want complete indoctrination on their life style and acceptance in everyone's life.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • E

      The Bible also expressly condemns the eating of bacon. Why aren't Christians protesting the pork industry?

      It wouldn't be that you are picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you want to follow while disregarding the rest would it?

      October 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Pete

      @brokenglasses – yet you are doing exactly the same by summarizing Leviticus. For example did you know that you are sinning by also wearing garments made of two or more materials? Yep same source – so throw away your wardrobe. The New Testament trumps many aspects of the Old – preaching tolerance, love and compassion over an "eye for an eye". Yes that means gay people too and any other group you don't happen to like.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

      This therefore is so written and is being read, one needs to 'rightly' divide the 'word of truth'. I take such a statement with subtleness in that some truth is not all truth or even truthfulness. Afterall, was not the Word passed down first by the spoken and then by the written of? How much of this Word is of Truth and how much is false or just fables?

      October 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

      Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      Act 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands

      1Cr 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

      Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

      These scriptures are what I cling to and daily do review them. I am nothing but a piece of clay molded by the God who made me from the 1st seed of my father and the 1st cell of my mother's womb. I am nothing without having Faith in GOD, His 1st Son and the God who built my being and until death God's families and servants will live out their Lives within my body.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • E

      Call yourself nothing or clay or silly putty, I do not care, but STOP TRYING TO TURN ME INTO YOUR JESUS PUTTY! Get out of everyone else's laws, schools, medical care and and every other part of my life.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Richard Kaiser

    'Separatists' divide while 'Unionists' unite. The main supports of either 'klan' may well be found in unionized separatism, the key to fashionability and declarations' subsidiaries. Political devotionalism seems to run the ramparts of delusionalized wayfaring means and subtle weighing of partisan wranglings. To judge those running away from or toward seems to be the random generalizing of the oppressive. Deeds done do ever need replacements to sturdy up the malcontents. When will the Ends become the new beginnings?

    October 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  8. Larry Braus

    Thank you for reminding us all that we require not only freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM it as well..
    "E Pluribus Unm". Out of many, one. Love it or leave it.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  9. sassypants

    I totally agree with the author of this article.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • withoutgod

      Oh really? Ever take antibiotics or have a vaccination? If so, you have just taken advantage of the theory you don't believe in.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  10. God Illusion

    More nonsense and brainwashed idiocy from another person infused with myths, wish thinking and ancient fables served with a side order of arrogance, ignorance and supercilious superiority. It's time human beings left behind these notions and came down to earth as one people with real problems that require real, earthly based solutions.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Old Fool

      Well said.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ God Illusion,,,,,,"It's time human beings left behind these notions and came down to earth as one people with real problems that require real, earthly based solutions."

      I'd rather vote for a Burger King or a Hotel in Space or maybe upon the moon or Mars,,,,,

      October 16, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. Old Fool

    The best example of not separating church and state is Iran. Do we really want to live like that? These evangelicals are the first to condemn the Muslims but their ideals are so similar it is hard to tell them apart. Prayer is just fine if it works for you, but dont let it interfere with reason, then it is dangerous.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Ceverett

      Are you serious? Even the most diehard liberal wouldn't agree with that. Comparing Christianity and hardline Islamists is ludacris. Nut job right wingers STILL aren't as bad as a country that would even consider execution for an individual that doesn't believe as they do.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Like! Like! Like!

      October 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  12. KL

    I would take "Muslim" Obama any day over a Southern Baptist candidate. At least Muslims are out in America, trying to be good citizens and good people. Southern Baptists teach that one should avoid "legalism" at all costs, meaning that, as long as one says the "saved" prayer, they can do whatever they want and sin, fornicate, and murder their way to heaven. Suddenly, the Nazi Germany SS officer who happens to be Protestant goes to heaven because he said the "saved" prayer, while his innocent Jewish victim goes straight to hell by default for not being Protestant. Let me state something right now- such beliefs are depraved, no matter how one tries to soften them and explain them. Not all Christians believe such absolute hogwash (the Catholic Church is a much better example of following Christ), but those Christian groups that do follow such an angry, immoral perception of God have no place in public office. I would take a Muslim, an atheist, a Catholic, or a Jew any day of the week over a Southern Baptist candidate.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  13. whatever

    Here is my take. Have fun with your religion. Enjoy. Just please, as a favor for the rest of us, don't try to jam your BS nonsense and twisted up logic into some new law that others who don't follow your specific brand of religion must then follow. It's crap. It's hypocritical.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Like! Like! Like! Like!

      October 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  14. Mr. T. Bag

    Are evangelicals dangerous?? ...Is the Taliban dangerous?
    –Evangelicals ARE the American Taliban, without a doubt...

    October 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Old Fool

      I think you said the same thing I did, only better. Good post

      October 16, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Like! Like! Like! Like! Like!

      October 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  15. morpunkt

    Sorry Mr. Mohler, but you forgot to mention the elephant in the room, regarding the Evangelicals in politics, that of anti-Mormonism in the public, political area. Hello!
    Stay out of this nonsense.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  16. jason

    Next we will here from the leader of the Haqqani seminaries about why their version of Islam is not dangerous.

    I'm getting tired of hearing from the intolerant cult of Southern Baptists. How about an expose on their twisted beliefs instead of these constant editorials where you let them try and make their religion sound good and peaceful instead of the intolerant degrading and hateful verson of Christianity they preach every week.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Right on.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  17. JennyTX

    Didn't Jesus want his followers to help the sick and the poor? Then why are Christian conservatives so against universal health care??

    October 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • ZarGoth

      Great question!

      Any takers...?

      October 16, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Christians do help the sick and the poor. They just don't like the fact that people are coddling able bodied folks to reject working for a living.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      because they're hypocrites.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, that's rich. Why aren't you working for a living, HS? You got yourself fired from your job because you were incompetent and now sit on your rump collecting SS. Why should anyone coddle you?

      October 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Ceverett

      Yeah, I'll bite. And it's one you won't expect. In the eyes of a true Christian, it's not the governments job to help the poor and sick, it's OUR job and we have failed. So since we failed, should we give big brother a shot at it? Absolutely not. Liberals are so eager to cut off the hand that feeds it. Welcome to a global economy. If you stiffle big business, they'll just take their football and go somewhere else. What this country needs is a big fat dose of reality and any attempt to lessen the blow will only make it worse.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Atheist

      You're a joke sent from heaven, right, HS? Surely you realize that the US has THE inferior health care system among the developed countries.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • withoutgod

      CEverett

      I must admit, that as an Rational Person (some call us Atheists) I did not expect your answer that it is the role of the faithful to do those things and that it his failed. I think that is a very honest an insightful statement, one which a lot of your comrades would never admit to. In the county that I live in, there are literally hundreds of churches. possibly even a thousand. yet there are still homeless people. I think you are right in saying that religion has failed to meet this demand, and I applaud your honesty in saying so.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  18. chrisg

    Keep your religion out of my government and out of my life. And stop knocking on my door at 8:00am sunday morning.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Try answering the door naked. That usually gets rid of 'em.

      October 16, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • HeavenSent

      LOL Chrisg. You're not referring to true Christians but a man made cult that has changed Jesus' scriptures for their own power and control.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Also stay out of my body. What goes on up inside me is nobody's business but mine.
      Creepy fanatic christian predators.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Atheist

      Interesting how someone must constantly apologize as to what "real Christians" are.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Get Real

      @Heaven Sent:

      Paul of Tarsus = Joseph Smith of his day. Same same.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Russ

    "even as polls indicate that a majority of Americans question evolution." Does this not tell us something? Since we are all animals, we do not differ when we run in packs. Having belief systems may work as long as there are checks and balances. I believe your founding fathers realized this. Keep it in your own homes and churches!! Let it loose and there is no discernable difference between Muslims and Christians. Each want the world to be reassembled in their limited "image". There are about 100 trillion cells in the human body. Only ten trillion are human cells. The rest are bacteria, virus, and other microbes. If a god created us in his image...well...he must have been a bug.

    October 16, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • HeavenSent

      You're bugging out this a.m. Too much coffee, I suspect.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      its a good point, Russ, but the larger point is that the quote about us not "believing" in evolution is a lie. there is no such data. Had there been a poll with those stats, he'd have pointed to it.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  20. Greg

    What I can't stand about Evangelical Christians is the hypocrisy. Can you imagine how many people they could help if they put even half the effort they put into the anti abortion crusade and trying to make the US Government a Christian state, into actually helping people? I've read the new testament, and so many of them miss 95% of what Jesus preached about. They choose to narrowly interpret bible passages to help further a political agenda and thus benefit themselves. They seem to have no concern for what happens to the less fortunate. I can not recall a single demonstration where they picketed with signs that said "Feed the poor", "Help your fellow man", "Treat others how you would like to be treated". Instead they drone on and on about the rights of unborn children! How about you help some of the poor souls who made it to this side?!?!?! Instead they back Republican candidates who pander to their simplistic religious views and the only religion most Republican candidates truly believe in is "God help's those who help themselves and their rich friends who financed their ride to office". The candidates and their staff probably sit in meetings and laugh at how gullible you evangelical Christians were to put them in office. Do you think ANY people who are powerful enough to be a viable candidate for president of the United States gives a rat's behind about abortion? They run on those views because they need a way to add the middle class and poor votes to those of the rich! Wake up!

    October 16, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • HeavenSent

      WOW Greg. Such hatred so early in the day.

      Amen.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He's got your number, HS. You're the biggest hypocrite here.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      well said, Greg.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Atheist

      I don't see anything hateful in Greg's statement. He speaks the truth, though he doesn't seem to consider himself as heaven-sent to so speak.

      October 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Darla

      Remember George Bush # 2? Remember the run up to the war in Iraq? So passionate about it. Using 911 to create fear and twist the truth as to reasoning to invade Iraq. Of course it was based on lies to further Halliburton and the takeover of their oil and Saddam. All those televised speeches about it. Did we hear him ever give a minute (after he was elected) to denounce abortion adamantly and so fervently? You right wing Christians voted for him based on his abortion stance and look what it got you. This country is so screwed because of his 8 yrs in office and HEY abortion is still alive and well.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Greg

      Heaven Sent,
      There is no hatred in my statement. Did my comments hit a little too close to home? I suggest you put down the "Stop Abortion Now" sign and go volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter.
      Helping people who already made it out of the womb might make you feel better and have a much bigger impact on human suffering.

      October 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.